Hyderabad: City’s tennis player Yadlapalli Pranjala had represented the country twice before in the Fed Cup at junior level in 2013 and 2014. However, the recently-concluded Fed Cup, where India managed to stay in the Asia/Oceania Group 1 with victory over Chinese Taipei in the relegation play-off, remains a special one as it was her dream to play for the country at the senior level.
At 18, she is the youngest player to be selected into the Indian side. The singles player made a winning debut in the doubles match when she and her partner Prarthana Thombare cruised to a comfortable 6-2, 6-4 victory over the Hong Kong pair of Kwan Yau Ng and Ho Ching Wu in India’s 3-0 victory. Though she is a little disappointed for not playing singles, she is delighted to contribute for the country’s victory.
“Yes. I am little disappointed for not playing singles. But donning the country colours in Fed Cup is the greatest feeling ever. Fed Cup is the highest tournament you could represent your country. This is special for me as I made a winning debut,” said Pranjala, who is away in Egypt for an ITF tournament.
What makes it more interesting is the selection to Fed Cup team has come just five months after she started playing in the women’s category.
“I started playing in the senior category since five months. And being able to make it to the Indian team is a big breakthrough for me. When I started, I was at 1,000 in the WTA rankings. I worked hard and came to 480 now. That helped me get into the Indian Fed Cup team,” she elaborated.
“Generally when you have same level players playing in the team, the management will shuffle between the second and third players. Our team didn’t do that. So I couldn’t get a chance to play singles. Nevertheless, I am happy to be part of this Indian side,” he added.
Talking about her experience, “It is a wonderful experience. Playing in the Fed Cup also gives a chance to train with the best in the country and work with good support staff. The Fed Cup also has top WTA players who are ranked within 100. So playing against them and watching them play is a good experience as we can learn so many things.”
When asked about Ankita Raina’s show in the tournament where she won three matches against Top 100 players in the singles, Pranjala said, “She played brilliantly in this tournament. I have never seen her play so consistently. She is in good form.”
She also feels that playing in Fed Cup motivates her to work harder. “I will work harder from now on and I hope I will make my debut in singles next year.”
Pranjala has started training in Bengaluru with coach Praveen Kumar and mentor Krishna Bhupathi at the Bhupathi Tennis Academy’s Tennis Village. “Playing here at Tennis Village has helped me improve my game. They give minute attention to the game, is very good. My game has improved a lot since coming here,” she added.